Photography Project 52: Week 16 – Creating Collages from Murals and Other Street Art

I’m on a bit of a collage kick lately.  I am interested in multi-media collage and this small projects seem to be a logical step in understanding how to use software to assemble different images.  I live in LA and street art is very common, I especially love murals.  I don’t really linger long, but since staring at these images for hours, I’ve discovered they have complex layered meaning (a nice way to engage my mind as I continue to muscle through new techniques using Photoshop).

I had the advantage of some free pre-formatted templates to use (now I need to learn how to create my own with these great thick black lines so I can build different sizes and configurations.  If you know of “how-to” resource out there, I’d love to look at it).  Here are some of my basic steps:

  • It’s better if you isolate and photograph a small discrete subject in the street art.  Like the heart above – it’s easier to make it stand out when you vary the color scheme.  Here is the alleyway where most of the images for my collages came from – it was over a block long with murals along the entire length and in the doorways.
  • Make sure all of your processing and clean up is done, before you start importing it in your template.  Once you start making multiple copies, you really want them to be uniform.
  • Find a template you like – there are many free ones on the web.  Just make sure you aren’t downloading spyware.
  • Use the want tool to select the white space/section of the template you want to insert the image into.  The copy the image and use “Paste Special/Paste into”.  It will put your image right into the selected area.  (this took me a good 20 minutes to figure out).  Then use the Free Transform tool to adjust the sizing.
  • Go back to the image you are working with, add a hue and saturation layer, and change the color.  Keep making copies until you have filled your template.  This is the original image in the alleyway.  I was drawn to the color (and the very miserable subject).  But found it almost too colorful in the collage I was creating.  So I stripped most or all of the color out.
  • Align the tops and bottoms of the different blocks.
  • Tip:  I tried taking different elements in a scene and creating a collage of parts.  Ultimately I liked colorized variations of the same scene.  I may keep trying though.
  • Tip:  Sometimes I found the orientation of the subject repeated several times monotonous, so I flipped it. The light bulb photo at the end of this post is an example.

Injury index:  well from the hours of processing and fighting with Photoshop that I spent, my back and arms ache.  I could use a massage – but I don’t think it really counts as an injury.  So injury free, including this week, is 10…..injuries incurred is 6.


  1. pamphotography

    Thank you – I had actually tossed that image thinking there was nothing I could do with it. I was able to find it on a temporary backup and really loved it for this project. Guess it goes to show,you shouldn’t toss things so easily.

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